Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review of David Kendall's Morality and Capitalism

Before I get into the book, David Kendall is a professor of economics at UVA-Wise.  I met David when we both worked at RTI International between 2002-2004.  I always knew he was a libertarian, but I had no idea he was such a great writer.

In Morality and Capitalism: A Dialogue on Freedom,David teaches about why capitalism is the only economic system to use if you are concerned about morality.  He does this in an interesting way.  Much of the book contains a dialogue between a wise teacher and an inquisitive student.

The book is great and I highly recommend it.  It's not too long and you can get it for your e-reader for a reasonable price. (Right now it is $4.99.)

I don't want to give much away, but I can't resist putting in a few excerpts:
1. All people want to be free.  Freedom is a universal human value.  But we cannot be free if we are compelled by others.  Consequently, if we want to be free, we should be moral.
2. Tyro: So, we should quit using the term "public property"? 
Solon: No, Tyro.  That would be impractical.  It is fine to call certain land "public property," provided we understand that such property is not and cannot be owned "collectively".
3. Rational People have but one right, the right to be free of unjust compulsion of others.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Quoted in NPR Philadelphia story

link here

You can read or listen!

Three great sentences ...

I don't normally read the comments on the articles I write, because often they can turn into harsh personal attacks.  But readers of The Federalist have seemed both intelligent and civil, so I checked out the comments from my recent oped.  Here is a great comment by someone with the screen name of "SpaceCommie":
The median world income is about ten thousand dollars a year, adjusted for buying power by country. A minimum wage worker in the US makes more money than over half the workers in the world.
This is not to say that people working for low wages in the US don't face serious problems, but it should be sufficient to establish that the idea that it's somehow illegitimate to pay workers below $10/hour is silly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My new oped in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Here is my new oped in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled Three Keys to Prosperity

I think the timing of this is ideal, as it is the day Tom Wolf becomes governor of Pennsylvania.

Here is an excerpt:
For Pennsylvania's economy, 2014 was a good year. The unemployment rate fell, and few new impediments to working were created by our state lawmakers. Looking ahead, here are three recommendations for elected officials in Harrisburg to help make 2015 prosperous.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Anti-fracking insiders didn't disclose position when writing NY report

Very sleazy.  Not surprising, but sleazy nonetheless.

Link here

One of the three peer-reviewers is Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and environmental advocate who is also co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. Two others, Robert Oswald and Jerome Paulson, are vocal opponents. Several of the study's authors, though not all, are known fracking skeptics and have ties to groups that oppose the practice -- including Denny Larson, study co-author and director of Global Community Monitor, which is sharply critical of fracking.
And ..
“They do the studies to get the results they want,” he said. “They are not going to be objective, they have an agenda.”

My newest oped in The Federalist

Changing these two laws would appropriately commemorate MLK Day

A day spent not working is a bad tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. We should instead provide more opportunities for African-Americans, and all Americans, to lead productive lives on MLK Day and every other.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Economics of Billy Elliot (The Musical)

I was with Susquehanna University's London Program students this week, and got the opportunity to see the musical Billy Elliot on Monday.

It was wonderful and there are economic issues everywhere in the show.

The show was centered around a boy, Billy Elliot, who's dad, brother, and much of the town are in the middle of a coal miner's strike.  The backdrop for this is the 1984-1985 coal miners' strike, which took place in the UK (wikipedia info here).

While I enjoyed the show, it certainly had a bit of a left-wing perspective.  Much of the show is from the striker's perspective.  That said, the dad is pretty terrible throughout the show, so the fact that he supports the strike and is an abusive father perhaps doesn't give much sympathy to strikers.

The questions I might ask if I took an economics student to this show is:

1. The strikers threatened violence to people who were willing to work for lower wages.  (I.e., the people willing to "cross the picket line".)  Why would society look down on those who are simply willing to work for a lower wage?  Why do so many in society think it is acceptable to commit violent acts against these workers?

2. If the strikers really felt like they were underpaid, why didn't they simply get a different job?

3. When multiple companies band together to force people to pay higher prices for products, this is called collusion and many people (at least in the US) have gone to jail for this.  Why does society treat strikers who are colluding together to force taxpayers or firms to pay higher prices different?  (I say taxpayers, as for government run sectors it is the taxpayers who pay the workers, not firms.)

My final comment isn't as much about economics but about the political realities of the world.  There is a song called "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher" ...

The lyrics include the lines "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher; We all celebrate today 'cause it's one day closer to your death."  I wonder what would happen if a musical had the lines "Merry Christmas Barack Obama, we celebrate today because it's one day closer to your death"?  The riots and outrage from the left would be everywhere.  Yet I had heard barely a peep about this song ... Why is that?